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Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 1 of 11 Page ID #:1

1 Matthew Topic, IL Bar No. 6290922


matt@loevy.com
2
LOEVY & LOEVY
3 311 N. Aberdeen, Third Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60607
4
Tel.: (312) 243-5900
5 Fax: (312) 243-5902
Pro Hac Vice Motion Forthcoming
6

7 Nabiha Syed, NY Bar No. 5058672


nabiha.syed@buzzfeed.com
8
BUZZFEED INC.
9 111 East 18th Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10003
10
Tel.: (646) 660-9617
11 Fax: (212) 431-7461
Pro Hac Vice Motion Forthcoming
12

13 Rachel Steinback, SBN 310700


steinbacklaw@gmail.com
14
LAW OFFICE OF RACHEL STEINBACK
15 P.O. Box 291253
Los Angeles, CA 90029
16
Tel.: (213) 537-5370
17 Fax: (213) 232-4003
18
Attorneys for Plaintiffs JASON LEOPOLD and BUZZFEED INC.
19

20
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
21

22 JASON LEOPOLD and BUZZFEED


INC.,
23 COMPLAINT FOR
Plaintiffs, DECLARATORY AND
24 INJUNCTIVE RELIEF UNDER
v. THE FREEDOM OF
25 INFORMATION ACT, 5 USC 552
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE
26 OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE
27 OF THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY
GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF
28 JUSTICE OFFICE OF LEGAL
COUNSEL, FEDERAL BUREAU OF
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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 2 of 11 Page ID #:2

1 INVESTIGATION, DEPARTMENT
OF JUSTICE CIVIL DIVISION,
2 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION,
3 CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
AGENCY, DEPARTMENT OF
4 HOMELAND SECURITY,
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY,
5 and OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF
NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE,
6
Defendants.
7

9 INTRODUCTION
10 1. Plaintiffs JASON LEOPOLD and BUZZFEED INC. file this Freedom
11 of Information Act suit under 5 U.S.C. 552 to force Defendants DEPARTMENT
12 OF JUSTICE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (OAG),
13 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY
14 GENERAL (DAG), DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE OFFICE OF LEGAL
15 COUNSEL (OLC), FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI),
16 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CIVIL DIVISION (DOJ-CIVIL),
17 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION (NSD),
18 CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA), DEPARTMENT OF
19 HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS), NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
20 (NSA), and OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE
21 (ODNI) to produce records mentioning or referring to statements by President
22 Donald Trump that his offices were wire-tapped by the Obama administration and
23 other claims the President has made on Twitter.
24 PARTIES
25 2. Plaintiff JASON LEOPOLD is a journalist who lives in Beverley Hills,
26 CA, and works in Los Angeles, CA. LEOPOLD submitted the FOIA requests at
27 issue in this case.
28

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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 3 of 11 Page ID #:3

1 3. Plaintiff BUZZFEED INC. is a media organization with its principal


2 place of business in New York, NY, and offices in Los Angeles, CA, and
3 elsewhere. BUZZFEED shares a legal interest in the request and in any responsive
4 records that are produced.
5 4. Defendant OAG is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
6 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
7 5. Defendant DAG is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
8 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
9 6. Defendant OLC is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
10 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
11 7. Defendant FBI is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
12 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
13 8. Defendant DOJ-CIVIL is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
14 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
15 9. Defendant NSD is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
16 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
17 10. Defendant CIA is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
18 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
19 11. Defendant DHS is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
20 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
21 12. Defendant NSA is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
22 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
23 13. Defendant ODNI is a federal agency subject to the Freedom of
24 Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
25 JURISDICTION AND VENUE
26 14. This case is brought under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(6)(c)(i) and presents a
27 federal question conferring jurisdiction on this Court.
28

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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 4 of 11 Page ID #:4

1 15. Venue is proper under 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(B) because Plaintiff


2 LEOPOLD resides in this District.
3 DOJ DEFENDANTS FOIA VIOLATIONS
4 16. On March 6, 2017, LEOPOLD requested under FOIA the following
5 records from Defendants OAG, DAG, OLC, FBI, DOJ-CIVIL, and NSD:
6 1) Any and all records, which includes but is not limited to
7 emails, memos, letters, text messages, instant messages, among all
8 Department of Justice Components addressed here staff, including
9 senior officials in the Office of Attorney General and Deputy Attorney
10 General, that mentions or refers to President Donald Trumps use of
11 Twitter and his tweets and constitutes discussions about his tweets.
12 The timeframe for this request is November 8, 2016 through the date
13 the search for responsive records is conducted.
14 2) Any and all records, which includes but is not limited to
15 emails, memos, text messages, instant messages, among all
16 Department of Justice Components addressed here, including senior
17 officials in the Office of Attorney General and Deputy Attorney
18 General, that mentions or refers to and constitutes discussions about
19 President Donald Trumps March 4, 2017 tweet that said, Terrible!
20 Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just
21 before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
22 3) Any and all records, which includes but is not limited to
23 emails, memos, letters, text messages, among all Department of Justice
24 Components addressed here, including senior officials in the Office of
25 Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, that mentions or
26 refers to and constitutes discussions about President Donald Trumps
27 March 4, 2016 tweet that said, Is it legal for a sitting President to be
28

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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 5 of 11 Page ID #:5

1 wire tapping a race for president prior to the election? Turned down
2 by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
3 17. A true and correct copy of the March 6, 2017 FOIA request is attached
4 as Exhibit A.
5 18. OAG and DAG: On April 14, 2017, OAG and DAG acknowledged
6 receipt of the request. A true and correct copy of the April 14, 2017 letter is
7 attached as Exhibit B.
8 19. In violation of the deadlines set forth in the FOIA statute, OAG and
9 DAG have not provided any records or substantive response to the request.
10 20. OLC: On April 3, 2017, Defendant OLC acknowledged receipt of the
11 request. A true and correct copy of the April 3, 2017 letter is attached as Exhibit C.
12 21. In violation of the deadlines set forth in the FOIA statute, OLC has not
13 provided any records or substantive response to the request.
14 22. FBI: On March 30, 2017, Defendant FBI responded to the request by
15 alleging that the records were not reasonably described and claiming that the
16 request is overly broad in scope and seeks information in vague and undefined
17 terms. A true and correct copy of FBIs March 30, 2017 response is attached as
18 Exhibit D.
19 23. On April 7, 2017, LEOPOLD appealed Defendant FBIs denial.
20 24. On April 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Information
21 Policy acknowledged the appeal. In violation of the statutory deadline to respond
22 to appeals, OIP has not yet issued a determination on the appeal. A true and correct
23 copy of OIPs April 7, 2017 acknowledgement is attached as Exhibit E.
24 25. DOJ-CIVIL: Defendant DOJ-CIVIL failed to provide a response to
25 the request by the statutory deadline.
26 26. On April 26, 2017, well after the statutory deadline, Defendant DOJ-
27 CIVIL inquired with LEOPOLD about narrowing his request because it
28 determined that we may have hundreds of emails and records which may be
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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 6 of 11 Page ID #:6

1 responsive. A true and correct copy of DOJ-CIVILs response is attached as


2 Exhibit F.
3 27. LEOPOLD is not required to narrow the scope of the request and
4 declines to do so.
5 28. DOJ-CIVIL has neither produced any records nor provided a proper
6 response to the request.
7 29. NSD: On March 15, 2017, in response to a telephone conversation
8 with NSD, LEOPOLD agreed to narrow the number of files to be searched and
9 NSD agreed to search its Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant
10 Attorney Generals files for possible responsive records. A true and correct copy of
11 the March 15, 2017 letter from NSD documenting this conversation is attached as
12 Exhibit G.
13 30. Two days after agreeing to search a limited number of files, NSD
14 declared that the search for records responsive to the second and third portions of
15 LEOPOLDs request may reveal information properly classified under Executive
16 Order 13526. To confirm or deny the existence of such materials in each case
17 would tend to reveal properly classified information regarding whether particular
18 surveillance techniques have or have not been used by the U.S. Intelligence
19 Community. Accordingly, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of
20 records in these files responsive to your request pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1). A
21 true and correct copy of the March 17, 2017 response from NSD is attached as
22 Exhibit H.
23 31. Upon receipt of NSDs March 17, 2017 response, LEOPOLD
24 withdrew the narrowing of his request and requested that it be processed as
25 originally submitted.
26 32. On March 17, 2017, LEOPOLD appealed Defendant NSDs response.
27 In violation of the statutory deadlines, OIP has not yet ruled to the appeal.
28 33. On May 2, 2017, NSD proposed a narrowed scope of the request.
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COMPLAINT
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1 34. LEOPOLD is not required to narrow the scope of the request and
2 declines to do so.
3 DEFENDANT CIAS FOIA VIOLATION
4 35. On March 6, 2017, LEOPOLD submitted a request to CIA for the
5 same scope of records that were requested from the Department of Justice agencies.
6 A true and correct copy of his March 6, 2017 request to the CIA is attached as
7 Exhibit I.
8 36. On March 15, 2017, Defendant CIA acknowledged receipt of the
9 request. A true and correct copy of the March 15, 2017 letter from the CIA is
10 attached as Exhibit J.
11 37. In violation of the deadlines set forth in the FOIA statute, CIA has not
12 provided any records or any substantive response.
13 DEFENDANT DHSS FOIA VIOLATION
14 38. On March 6, 2017, LEOPOLD submitted a request to DHS for the
15 same scope of records that were requested from the Department of Justice agencies.
16 A true and correct copy of his March 6, 2017 request to the DHS is attached as
17 Exhibit K.
18 39. On March 15, 2017, Defendant DHS alleged that his request was too
19 broad in scope or did not specifically identify the records which you are seeking.
20 DHS requested that he resubmit the request containing a reasonable description
21 of the sought records. A true and correct copy of the March 15, 2017 letter from
22 DHS is attached as Exhibit L.
23 40. On March 30, 2017, LEOPOLD appealed Defendant DHSs denial. In
24 violation of the statutory deadlines, OIP has not yet ruled on the appeal.
25 DEFENDANT NSAS FOIA VIOLATION
26 41. On March 6, 2017, LEOPOLD submitted a request to NSA for the
27 same scope of records that were requested from the Department of Justice agencies.
28

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COMPLAINT
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1 A true and correct copy of his March 6, 2017 request to NSA is attached as Exhibit
2 M.
3 42. On March 7, 2017, Defendant NSA acknowledged receipt of the
4 request and assigned it a reference number. A true and correct copy of the March 7,
5 2017 response from NSA is attached as Exhibit N.
6 43. In violation of the deadlines set forth in the FOIA statute, NSA has not
7 provided any records or any further response.
8 DEFENDANT ODNIS FOIA VIOLATION
9 44. On March 6, 2017, LEOPOLD submitted a request to ODNI for the
10 same scope of records that were requested from the Department of Justice agencies.
11 A true and correct copy of his March 6, 2017 request to ODNI is attached as
12 Exhibit O.
13 45. On April 4, 2017, Defendant ODNI acknowledged receipt of the
14 request and assigned it a reference number. A true and correct copy of the April 4,
15 2017 response is attached as Exhibit P.
16 46. In violation of the deadlines set forth in the FOIA statute, ODNI has
17 not provided any records or any further response.
18 COUNT I OAGS VIOLATION OF FOIA
19 47. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
20 48. Defendant OAG is an agency subject to FOIA.
21 49. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to OAG.
22 50. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
23 51. OAG has improperly denied the request.
24 COUNT II DAGS VIOLATION OF FOIA
25 52. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
26 53. Defendant DAG is an agency subject to FOIA.
27 54. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to DAG.
28 55. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 9 of 11 Page ID #:9

1 56. DAG has improperly denied the request.


2 COUNT III OLCS VIOLATION OF FOIA
3 57. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
4 58. Defendant OLC is an agency subject to FOIA.
5 59. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to OLC.
6 60. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
7 61. OLC has improperly denied the request.
8 COUNT IV FBIS VIOLATION OF FOIA
9 62. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
10 63. Defendant FBI is an agency subject to FOIA.
11 64. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to FBI.
12 65. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
13 66. FBI has improperly denied the request.
14 COUNT V DOJ-CIVILS VIOLATION OF FOIA
15 67. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
16 68. Defendant DOJ-CIVIL is an agency subject to FOIA.
17 69. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to DOJ-CIVIL.
18 70. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
19 71. DOJ-CIVIL has improperly denied the request.
20 COUNT VI NSDS VIOLATION OF FOIA
21 72. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
22 73. Defendant NSD is an agency subject to FOIA.
23 74. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to NSD.
24 75. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
25 76. NSD has improperly denied the request.
26 COUNT VII CIAS VIOLATION OF FOIA
27 77. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
28 78. Defendant CIA is an agency subject to FOIA.
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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 10 of 11 Page ID #:10

1 79. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to CIA.


2 80. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
3 81. CIA has improperly denied the request.
4 COUNT VIII DHSS VIOLATION OF FOIA
5 82. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
6 83. Defendant DHS is an agency subject to FOIA.
7 84. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to DHS.
8 85. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
9 86. DHS has improperly denied the request.
10 COUNT IX NSAS VIOLATION OF FOIA
11 87. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
12 88. Defendant NSA is an agency subject to FOIA.
13 89. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to NSA.
14 90. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
15 91. NSA has improperly denied the request..
16 COUNT X ODNIS VIOLATION OF FOIA
17 92. The above paragraphs are incorporated herein.
18 93. Defendant ODNI is an agency subject to FOIA.
19 94. LEOPOLD made a valid FOIA request to ODNI.
20 95. BUZZFEED also has a legal interest in the request.
21 96. ODNI has improperly denied the request.
22 WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs ask the Court to:
23 i. Order Defendants to conduct an adequate search for records and
24 produce all responsive non-exempt records;
25 ii. Award Plaintiffs attorney fees and costs; and
26 iii. Enter any other relief the Court deems appropriate.
27

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COMPLAINT
Case 2:17-cv-03747 Document 1 Filed 05/18/17 Page 11 of 11 Page ID #:11

1 RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
2 LAW OFFICE OF RACHEL STEINBACK
3 /s/ Rachel Steinback
4 Attorneys for Plaintiffs

6 Matthew Topic, Illinois Bar No. 6290922


(E-Mail: matt@loevy.com)
7 LOEVY & LOEVY
8 311 N. Aberdeen, Third Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60607
9 Tel.: (312) 243-5900
10 Fax: (312) 243-5902
Pro Hac Vice Motion Forthcoming
11

12 Nabiha Syed, NY Bar No. 5058672


(E-Mail: nabiha.syed@buzzfeed.com)
13 BUZZFEED INC.
14 111 East 18th Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10003
15 Tel.: (646) 660-9617
16 Fax: (212) 431-7461
Pro Hac Vice Motion Forthcoming
17

18 Rachel Steinback, SBN 310700


(E-Mail: steinbacklaw@gmail.com)
19 LAW OFFICE OF RACHEL STEINBACK
20 P.O. Box 291253
Los Angeles, CA 90029
21 Tel.: (213) 537-5370
22 Fax: (213) 232-4003
23

24

25

26

27

28

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COMPLAINT